By Janis Peiser
The Internet has squeezed its way into every part of our lives, and the field of dentistry is no exception. The latest Pew Research Center national survey found that 72 percent of people used the Internet to search for health information, which included finding providers. Of these patients, one in five consulted online reviews in choosing their professional.
The ubiquity of the Internet and social media make it necessary for a dentists looking to build their practices to utilize these mediums. As the phone book and bus bench ads fade from existence, the Internet provides an effective place for dentists to attract new patients. Even if you’re not particularly web-savvy, these five tips can help you use online content to bring new patients into your practice.
1. Leverage your expertise.
Patients that log on to the Internet to research dental information are looking for an expert to provide them with insight. Who better to provide this information than a friendly local dentist? If you’re a general dental practitioner, you can provide information about a variety of common conditions, including gingivitis, gum disease and tooth decay, as well as tips on oral hygiene. Specialists such as orthodontists and oral surgeons can detail the process for braces and root canals and allay patient fears. Patients like to be armed with information about their health, and being the person to provide that knowledge can help you build trust.
2. Create an ongoing calendar of content.
Whether you choose to blog, write articles, or communicate with patients via social media, consistency is essential. If you write an excellent post that a lot of people read, and then never write again, you’re missing out on an audience that could be full of potential new patients. If you don’t have time to manage your social media presence or blog, take one or two days a month to schedule batches of content for publishing to ensure that your voice is on the web all month long. You can also engage the services of a marketing firm, well versed in dental topics, to write the articles for you.
3. Post patient testimonials on your website.
A website is usually the first place patients go when looking for a new dentist. While their initial reason for looking you up on the web may be for your phone number and address, they are also “checking you out.” Wouldn’t it be great to have endorsements from you own patients front and center on your site for the world to see?
4. Share your success stories.
People love a heartwarming story, especially if they involve dramatic results. You may be constrained by privacy laws that prevent identifying your patients without their consent, but you can generally discuss successful procedures. You may also get your patient’s consent to share, which will make the story even more powerful. Photos of transformations and improvements can be extremely moving, especially for a patient that is in need of serious work.
5. Ask your patients post on review sites.
Positive online reviews can be invaluable in bringing new patients into your office. Most patients tend to choose medical providers through word of mouth, and online reviews factor into that referral network. Sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and your own Facebook or Google+ page are great places to post. While providing incentives can be legally problematic in some cases, if you give incentives for any kind of review, not just a positive review, you should have nothing to worry about.
6. Use social media to get the word out.
Facebook and Twitter are used by millions of people of all ages, many of whom likely fall into your patient demographic. Creating a professional profile outside of your personal networks on social media can help keep those two parts of your life separate and allow patients and potential new clients to connect with you outside of normal business hours. If used correctly, social media can also be an excellent platform to drive some serious traffic to your website and your practice.
New patients learn about dental practices in a variety of ways, and these days more are discovering them as a result of information they find on the web. A dentist’s time is limited, so it is important to carefully choose the types of social media platforms on which to focus. Those who recognize that patients are looking for dentists who demonstrate knowledge and experience, are well respected, and have a loyal following will be successful in bringing new patients into their practices.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.